Leaning In to Get Lean: Meet the Rare Female CEOs in the Diet Industry

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By Shae Blevins

The 2014 Fortune 500 List included 24 female CEOs – the most in history – and the United States elected a record-setting 100 women to the 113th Congress. Women are making their move!

But a lack of female leadership is still evident in the industry that targets American women most: Wellness. That’s the $20 billion industry that encompasses diet, fitness, and weight loss. It’s an industry where 85% of the consumers are women, and the grand majority of executive leadership — from CEOs to boards — are male. That’s right, there are dudes perched at the brands that prominently lead the industry – from the girl-powered Jillian Michaels to the all-inclusive Weight Watchers.

Fortunately, there are a few brands breaking the industry norm with female CEOs. It’s been two years since industry giant Nutrisystem appointed its first female CEO, and the brand is seemingly better for it. And most recently, Retrofit replaced its CEO with a woman. One feather in this hat was lost last December, when Dana Fiser left her two-year reign as CEO at Jenny Craig.

Meet the three shining female stars blazing trails in wellness:

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Mary Pigatti, Retrofit, CEO

Mary Pigatti joined Retrofit, an online- and app-based weight loss program for individuals and companies, as CEO in November.

Pigatti is not new to the industry. Before Retrofit, she served as Senior Vice President of Operations and Customer Delight at Limeade, Inc. Her 25-year career also includes working at Johnson & Johnson’s Wellness and Prevention subsidiary, at Ceridian as the Vice President of Sales and with United Health’s Optum division.

According to her company bio, Pigatti vowed to walk to work daily while thinking about the things for which she is most thankful.

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Dawn Zier, Nutrisystem, President and CEO

Weight loss leader Nutrisystem has been lead by Dawn Zier since 2012.

Zier joined Nutrisystem after 20 years with the Reader’s Digest Association, makers of The Digest Diet. Her diverse career builds on her 19 years of experience in senior-level positions, her strong background in marketing and new product development, and her education. Zier holds an MBA and a Master’s of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science – both from MIT.

Success marked her career before Nutrisystem, and the company and its target audience have only benefited from her appointment.
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Elise Donahue, CEO of South Beach Diet

She’s been at the helm of this popular diet scheme since 2011, when MidOcean Partners acquired the brand, which includes an online platform, books, and packaged food goods.

Elise is a likely leader for South Beach with an extensive career in the wellness industry. Prior to South Beach she was the CEO at Airborne Health, the immunity boosting supplement product that helps ward off germs on the airplane or in the classroom! Her resume also includes time at Proctor & Gamble, Kimberly Clarke, and SlimFast.

Also Read:

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